Skift Take

New York City isn't a nimble tech company, for sure. It's untenable for the city to mandate a September 5 enforcement deadline to implement new host registration rules when the city hasn't met its side of the bargain.

September 5 was the beginning of New York City’s host registration rules. However, the city’s electronic verification system isn’t operational yet, Skift has learned from three sources familiar with the new process.

The system is meant to help the city’s Office of Special Enforcement communicate with short-term rental platforms like Airbnb to ensure they aren’t accepting bookings from unregistered hosts.

Under the historic new registration requirements, hosts with shared rooms need to obtain registrations from the city to legally accommodate a maximum of two guests, and the hosts need to be present during the stay. The city had granted only 257 registrations as of August 28.

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Update: The city’s Office of Special Enforcement told Skift Wednesday that its verification system indeed went live on September 5, and that it is “functional and working as expected. The platforms serving NYC made demonstrable commitments to using our verification system and taking steps to limit unverified listings on their respective platforms. Given these substantial commitments, we are working collaboratively rather than enforcing punitive measures.”

One source said Wednesday that the city’s verification system is online, but there are many moving parts to the implementation, and that “nailing down facts is tough.”

Another source said Wednesday “they still aren’t passing through enough registrations through or letting us test at scale.”

As of September 4, OSE told Skift, it had approved 290 registration applications, rejected 90, and bounced back 516 to clear deficiencies. Hosts have submitted 3,829 applications.

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In a court filing in June, Airbnb, the largest short-term rental operator in the five boroughs, noted that the Office of Special Enforcement is supposed to send platforms the name, address, listing url, and host registration number through an electronic verification system.

When the platform’s information doesn’t align with the information the city sent, then the platform can’t verify the listing.

“When a verification fails, Airbnb must remove the listing in order to avoid the civil penalties,” Airbnb said in the court filing.

The same would hold true for other platforms verifying the city’s short-term rental registrations.

The platforms could face penalties of $1,500 per transaction processed from an unverified listing.

The potential penalties are moot at this early stage. If the city’s electronic verification process for host registrations isn’t up and running, it would be hard-pressed to issue fines to the platforms for noncompliances. Two sources said the city doesn’t intend to aggressively issue fines to the platforms for any noncompliance during the early stages of the new regulations.

The city is believed to be dealing with a backlog of host registration applications that it hasn’t even reviewed yet. The city’s Office of Special Enforcement didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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Tags: airbnb,, guests, hosts, nyc, online travel, online travel newsletter, regulations, vacation rentals, vrbo

Photo credit: An Airbnb loft in Brooklyn as seen in 2011. Source: Venturist/

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